The most important thing to know about the Momo Challenge that’s sweeping through the news and social media is that there is, in fact, no such thing as a Momo Challenge.
Allegedly, the figure of Momo would appear on YouTube and WhatsApp and encourage children to do dares or harm themselves. The “challenge” is the same type of hoax that suggested there was a Tide Pod challenge where teenagers were supposedly filming themselves risking their lives consuming Tide Pods. It was all a hoax, and most of the teenagers today knew it was all nonsense long before various fact-checking websites like Snopes debunked it.
A Google Image search could trace the original photograph of Momo to an art sculpture by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa.
Despite what people might think about kids these days, the truth is that they grew up with Vine, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram and even Facebook. By the time kids reach high school, most already have a healthy amount of skepticism and distrust regarding anything the internet may feed them.
The rest of society, however, is still more than willing to nod its head at any hoax or horror the internet can dream up for today’s young “millennials.” From Slenderman to Tide Pods and Momo Challenges, this is a trend that seems protective at first, but is also a way to discredit and dismiss today’s youth.
Internet hoaxes are a staple of today’s society. They sweep through social media with the speed of a good rumor, and are then inevitably picked up by publications, school districts and local news stations. “Beware of what children are doing” is the message, especially on the internet.
Although the sculpture is haunting, Momo is not a threat, nor is it alive.
On the one hand, it’s a positive thing to remind parents to be careful of what kids are doing and watching on YouTube, but it’s also insulting that society is so quick to believe every hoax that comes along about “millennials” or kids today. By believing that they are susceptible to Tide Pods and Momo Challenge hoaxes, society discounts that children and adolescents today can take care of themselves. Contrary to popular belief, children today have the ability to avoid these hoaxes, if they were even real in the first place.
It was obvious that the Momo Challenge was fake from the beginning. A Google Image search could trace the original photograph of Momo to an art sculpture by Japanese artist Keisuke Aisawa. The hoax typically uses only a picture of the face of the sculpture, which features haunting bulging eyes surrounded by black circles, stringy straight hair and a small, surreal Cheshire cat smile.
The part of the sculpture that is not featured reveals that the sculpture is only three feet tall, bare-chested and has chicken feet as if it’s some kind of nightmare-fuel unleashed by the artist on an unsuspecting world. Although the sculpture is haunting, Momo is not a threat, nor is it alive.
The threat that the Momo Challenge symbolizes, however, lives on. There are indeed dangerous people on the internet. Children need to careful talking with strangers and the internet may provide a false sense of security. Parents should be careful of what children are viewing on the web.
The internet represents access to knowledge. Knowledge is power and with power comes responsibility.
Photo courtesy of The Japan Times